People who aren’t part of the martial arts community are often misguided as to what it means to practice Taekwondo or to be a martial artist. Martial arts is not just a sequence of stylized fighting moves. Taekwondo isn’t a training hall of people, elaborately jumping and kicking together. And none of this is done so that a person can learn to go out into the world and beat people up.
Martial arts in general and Taekwondo in particular are so much more than that.
Martial arts are . . .
There are so many facets to martial arts practice, many that we would not normally assume, and some that are much more obvious. However even those facets that everyone knows are much more rich and complex than you might think.
The core reason for doing martial arts isn’t so that you can learn to hit other people, but you definitely do learn how to handle yourself should you be backed into a corner. Sometimes not defending yourself is not an option. Though martial artists are constantly attempting to avoid physical confrontations, sometimes it’s just not possible. When that happens it’s a great thing to be able to step up and defend yourself.
Martial arts is an incredible way to get fit. The body is trained to be its best, and with purpose. What’s truly different about training martial arts versus training at a gym is that the fitness comes almost as a bonus. The drive that gets you into the training hall is different to the drive that you need for the gym, and for most people it’s easier! You don’t need the same level of willpower to train that you need to go hop onto the treadmill (though there is another kind of satisfaction that comes from the gym style workout). Taking up martial arts is a perfect way for people who struggle with the gym to get fit.
There are other bonuses that come from getting fit with martial arts, things like improved flexibility and agility. While you won’t necessarily become a bigtime bodybuilder while learning a martial art, you will get a more toned body and find it easier to drop a few kilos that you might be eager to get rid of.
The confidence that comes with practicing martial arts is like almost nothing else. It’s truly remarkable. There is something special about learning to take care of yourself, and martial artists often find that they learn to do things that they never thought were possible. For those who have struggled with feeling good about themselves, there’s a new sense of joy and self worth that develops with practicing martial arts. You are capable of more than you ever imagined, and martial arts is a door to believing in yourself.
Movies really don’t do justice to the deep relationships that are developed through the practice of martial arts. Not only does a martial arts instructor take on the role of guiding you along the path and teaching you the movements, they push you to do things that you don’t think are possible. A great instructor helps you to see the wholeness of martial arts, and the positive influence that it can have on your life outside of the training hall. The instructor/student relationship in martial arts crosses over years, and is an incredibly satisfying part of this process. It’s pleasing to witness it, and even more enjoyable to be a part of it.
Training the mind is an essential part of martial arts. Concentration and meditation is a big factor in most martial arts, and it’s a way that martial artists can learn to access whole other sides of themselves. Breathing becomes a big part of martial arts, and can really help you to learn to calm your nerves and improve your focus. That means powerful stress relief. Combat martial art training allows you to take all of the pent up energy and stress that tend to stay bottled up and to release them in a positive way, safely in a controlled environment. This is a big reason that people who struggle with anger find peace in martial arts – not because they learn to fight but because they are able to let it all go, physically and psychologically.